Blue Beetle (2023)
PG-13 ‧ Action/Adventure Scifi ‧ 2 Hours 7 Minutes
Written by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer
Directed by Angel Manuel Soto
Xolo Maridueña, Bruna Marquezine, Adriana Barraza, Damián Alcázar, Raoul Max Trujillo, Susan Sarandon, and George Lopez.
(In their own words) Jaime Reyes suddenly finds himself in possession of an ancient relic of alien biotechnology called the Scarab. When the Scarab chooses Jaime to be its symbiotic host, he’s bestowed with an incredible suit of armor that’s capable of extraordinary and unpredictable powers, forever changing his destiny as he becomes the superhero Blue Beetle.
The BEST things about the film
- Comedy – The film is very funny. There are some excellent comedic moments, especially in the scenes involving George Lopez’s character, Rudy Reyes, Jaime Reyes’ (Blue Beetle’s) uncle. While I enjoyed his character, I wish they didn’t make him such an obvious comedic conspiracy theorist trope right in the beginning. The style of comedy he uses also makes him taken less seriously. There are many ways to make this kind of character funny without a verbal slapstick style of humor.
- Diverse Representation – I appreciated finally seeing Latinx representation in a superhero film. I like seeing how different families interact and how different types of families are at home. This is very good for creating variety in these movies.
- Themes of Family – The themes of family are heavy in this film, and it helps ground the characters to be more relatable.
- Xolo Mariduena as Blue Beetle – Xolo did exceptionally well carrying the movie. He’s charismatic and believable, making me believe he wants what is best for his family. He should be proud to have led this movie, despite everything I’m about to say about the film itself.
The WORST things about the film
- Susan Sarandon – I am a huge Susan Sarandon fan. Adding her into a big-budget superhero movie as the central villain would give it a huge level of acting gravitas. However, this must be the worst performance she’s ever had. Her acting was stilted; her delivery sounded like she had just barely memorized the lines before stumbling on set. She deserves a hefty paycheck after spending so much time in more independent, artful movies, but…it would have been nice to have her elevate a film rather than keep pulling it down.
- Stupid Moments – I just don’t know how to express how disappointing it was that there were two to three idiotic moments for every nice moment in the film. I’m fine with plot holes in action films, you need suspension of disbelief, but these were just stupid, obvious ones that I didn’t get covered up or glossed over quick enough that I’m taken out of the movie. Let me give an example that sums up the film. At one point, we have a character that needs to sneak into a secured lab room, so when a worker comes out, she steals his badge and uses it to get into the room. Then she leaves with the badge. Minutes later, he comes back into the room. The secured room that he needed his badge to get into. HOW DID HE GET BACK IN WITHOUT THE BADGE?! That moment happens a lot in the film.
- Bad Writing – Bad writing results in me not caring much about what is happening in the film. I don’t think you need to follow a formula to make a good superhero film. I want and appreciate different ways of doing things; I like experimentation and seeing stories from other points of view. However, a superhero story needs a few basic things: a great villain, a motivated hero, and a clear mission. We need to understand the villain, we need to know why they are doing the things they do, and we need to care. We don’t have to like them, but we need to care. Blue Beetle writers decide to make the villain more of a CEO head with giant plans of greed that could endanger the world with more deadly weapons. While not much different than Lex Luthor, with Lex, at least I know his “why,” there are personal stakes with him. Villain Victoria Kord (played by all-star actress Susan Sarandon) offers no explanation behind the villainy in this film. She’s a villain for the sake of being a villain. With Jaime Ryes (The identity of Blue Beetle), we take too much time early on talking about how he loves his family without learning his “why.” Why does he love his family? What do they do for him? The focus is so much on the results without seeing what brought him to that result.
Representation is really important, but so is good writing. I hate when a film comes out that is supposed to decide whether Hollywood will make more movies featuring particular identities of actors. Blue Beetle seems to be determining whether or not more Superheros of Latinx descent will be made, much like Black Panther was pivotal in showing that you can have a predominantly Black Hollywood blockbuster. The difference here is Black Panther was solidly written. I want to pull my hair out when people expect a lackluster script to do well and hinge on the future of Lantix/Hispanic lead films on such mediocrity. Produce a solid movie! Don’t expect communities to show up just because you put their faces on a film. That is unfair.
Grieve when you finish your business.
IS IT REWATCHABLE
Yeah. Look, it’s not like this is Morbius-level bad. There are moments in the film I enjoyed. There are some excellent special effects, and it is a film that is trying to be something more significant than it is.
THE FINAL WORD
Representation matters, but so does a good story. I only knew a little about The Blue Beetle character before I went to the movie, and I still don’t know much after I left it. And that really bugged me. The film attempts to show how his family is at the core of The Blue Beetle’s strength, but we don’t see him building those muscles. We get the results without the work, leaving me feeling unsatisfied.
My 3L system gives me the choice to Love It, Like It, or Lose It.
The Blue Beetle gets an unfortunate Lose It.
THE MEME REVIEW